Selected Testimonials from an Unnamed Mission Trip

      In America   I did not know      even the man next door
but in the village   I   knew everybody.

I took off my Birkenstocks to play soccer barefoot
just   like
the kids   in   the village.

We were   their   gods
buoyed   up   by our own   good charm,
      of course it was not money but   the color of our dreams.

   Yes, I   feel like   they helped us   more than we   helped them,
though we gave a lot too.
No, there was nothing transactional,   a few bills paid,
      we brought them games and learning,   some textbooks.
   Oh, and we bought them some livestock.

We’d teach ’em how to dance, how to hit the Woah like any
         normal American kid. They’d teach us their traditions, their dances,
      they’d splash us with water blessed by the Shaman,
            and we’d splash them back      giggling.

Yes,   in the village we were treated like   royalty,
except for one old, pruny,   wrinkled,
   smelly, pagan kind of   guy   who’d curse   us   out.

No, yeah,   he was   definitely senile,
            out of it,
   backwards-minded – the kind of guy
where, upon seeing him   on any street corner in America,
  your own mother would turn to you
   and, clutching her purse tightly   to her side,   go

“There but for the grace of god go I.”

Victor Xia is a high school junior from Seattle, Washington. He has attended the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop and his work is forthcoming or has been published by Crashtest, The Live Poets Society, and The Poetry Juicebox. He believes in the power of mutual understanding, the value of a good film, and in reading more.

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